Mar 18 2011

NYT: Poker Bots Getting Smarter

written by: Will under News Comments: 1

In a story that will surely frighten and disturb online poker players who prefer to make their own decisions during a session, New York Times columnist Gabriel Dance describes the incredible advancements made in the world of poker bots in recent years. The column, entitled “Poker Bots Invade Online Gambling,” explains how poker bots have grown from a minor nuisance used by a few unethical players with minimal success into a real danger for the online poker community.

According to Dance, poker bots are now completely capable of winning, perhaps even consistently, against skilled players at NLHE tables with up to $100 stake levels.

Dance’s article also describes how some of the major poker sites, including PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, are now cracking down on members who use poker bots to commandeer their accounts and win real money. He also mentions that many online poker sites have what amounts to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on poker botting, citing the enormous amount of rake that a poker bot can generate (when it’s set to play 24/7, for example) as a primary reason behind the ignorance of many sites.

Michael Josem, a PokerStars security manager, says that PokerStars is currently investing “substantial resources” in the war against poker bots. When a player is found using a bot at PokerStars, the site removes that account from its games immediately, and any winnings are immediately confiscated. The winnings are then returned to any player who fell victim to the bot.

Brian Jetter, a co-founder of one of the most popular poker bot developers, thinks that smaller poker sites will continue to turn a blind eye to botting for financial reasons. According to Jetter’s estimates, Full Tilt is losing over $70k each month by imposing a no-botting policy.

What do you think? Are poker bots equivalent to cheating, or are they simply another tool of the trade like an odds calculator or a hand analyzer? If you’ve used a bot in the past or you use one currently, will you take your business elsewhere when your online poker site cracks down on bots?

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